BGMEA wants to avoid any sort of unrest or interruption for next wage hike

Staff Correspondent        
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Steer the wage hike to avoid unrest:

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) informed that they have asked government to form a minimum wage board to review the existing wages of the Ready Made Garment (RMG) workers.  “We wrote a letter urging the labor ministry for the minimum wage board”, said Siddiqur Rahman, President, BGMEA on November 26 at Annual General Meeting of BGMEA in the capital. “Despite adverse situation the sector is currently undergoing, we have made request to take necessary measures to form minimum wage board for re-fixing the minimum wages for garment workers in line with the provision of the labour law and to uphold our image both at home and abroad,” he read the letter BGMEA wrote to government on 8th November 2017.

Few months back more than 50 RMG units in Ashulia belt remained closed for nearly a week following a two-week work abstention enforced in support of the demand for wage hike, among others. Following the situation, international rights groups started to give pressure with alleging that workers’ rights situation was getting worse in the country’s RMG sector and they repeatedly urged the European Union (EU) to review Bangladesh’s eligibility for Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). BGMEA fall under pressure before their last Apparel Summit program on that context.

Figure 1: Siddiqur Rahman, President, BGMEA delivered speech at Annual General Meeting in the capital.
Figure 1: Siddiqur Rahman, President, BGMEA delivered speech at Annual General Meeting in the capital.
Figure 2:  Monthly minimum wage set in taka from 1985 to 2016. Source: BGMEA
Figure 2: Monthly minimum wage set in taka from 1985 to 2016.                                                           Source: BGMEA

BGMEA President also said, “This sector has been facing adverse situations since December 2013 when the last minimum wages regulation came into effect. The last wage board had fixed the minimum wages for garment workers at BDT 5,300”, he added. BGMEA wants to avoid any sort of unrest or interruption for next wage hike. The industry suffered for huge protest and vandalism through the incidents around 2013 for increasing wages. This time BGMEA wants to take careful effort as if no interruption occurs. And that’s the association has asked the government to take necessary steps to increase wages from their own.

However many industry insiders have feared that another wage hike will cause many apparel manufacturers to be shut downed as they will lose their competitiveness if buyers don’t increase product price.

Competition against India:

BGMEA President also said, “India is our main competitor. Recently Indian government has declared to reach in second position after 3 years in RMG export. Indian government gave lots of support to their industry owners”, he added.

He also said, “Some of garments buyers are going to Indian market from Bangladesh due to inefficient port facility and extra lead-time. Our lead time should be decreased, because online market is growing”.

Industry leaders informed that the value of taka against dollar, poor infrastructure and shortage of power and gas are the key challenges for the export oriented RMG sector. Industry owner’s expect that gas, power supply problem will be solved when government will set up LNG terminals.

Looking for new market:

Figure 3: Country wise RMG import from Bangladesh in 2016-17    (Value in %)      Source: EPB
Figure 3: Country wise RMG import from Bangladesh in 2016-17 (Value in %)                                      Source: EPB

According to Export Promotion Bureau, In the last FY 2016-17,Bangladesh export garments more 63% in EU, where USA 19%, Canada 3%, Japan 3%, Australia 3%, Turkey 1% and others 9%.

BGMEA president suggested all the factory owners to look for new market and invest more in research and development. “We hope, very soon we are going to grab more from new markets like Russia”, said Siddiqur Rahman.

“We are facing lots of harassment and learning from Accord and Alliance, now all factory owners have implemented in time stipulated by the Accord and Alliance,” said BGMEA President. “We already have started to build BGMEA own building, we hope after two years BGMEA will be able to shift own headquarters there”, he added.

In the meeting, BGMEA Vice -President (Finance) Mohammad Nasir presented annual financial report and activities. According to BGMEA, currently 4482 garments factories are member of BGMEA where 4.4 million employees are working.

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